Kids love a great story
I met an angel yesterday. She had floppy, shoulder length blond hair and pale blue eyes and she talked pretty much non-stop. Her name is Natalie. She’s 6 and in the first grade.
I got a chance to talk to Natalie because her parents were doing parent stuff. Talking to other adults, answering questions, solving problems. Natalie was standing quietly by. But when you looked in her direction, her eyes sparkled, inviting you in. So I asked her a question and it turns out that Natalie is a genius. Every kid is when they are 6.
We got to talking about first grade, and homework which was “reading” and she has to record her “minutes” in a log book and “I have to do an hour of reading kindergarten books” which “I am finished with now” so “I can read chapter books” about ponies and girls and “I REALLY want a pony” and … ‘My Mom wanted a pony when she was little’ (that was me sticking my nose in her story so I stopped)… and “each girl has a pony” and she told me their names, the ponies and the girls, and the ponies talk, or they whinny and then the girls translate what the ponies say because, of course, children can do this, and…
I told Natalie she should write a story and that I was a writer who had trouble coming up with good names, and she pulled out her pocket book of turquoise writing paper and listed 8 or 9 of her favorites in short order. Then, she suggested a plot. She didn’t call it this, of course; it was just the story. And there was magic and fun and, when I suggested something might go wrong that had to be righted by the characters, she invited in a new character – from among the names already listed – and made her the antagonist. Natalie knew what an antagonist was. Good kindergarten teacher or good parenting, I’m not sure.
And then her parents looked over at the two of us talking. I’m not sure Natalie noticed her parents because she was talking, but they gave me a, “thanks for keeping our little girl busy while we carry on here” look. And I smiled and went back to our conversation. I wasn’t doing this for them; I was doing it for me. This was no charity work. Natalie was an angel.
Because I had asked God, what am I to do with my writing this fall. And He introduced me to Natalie, who is of course a genius of the very first order. The kind who doesn’t know it. She just is and she delights and blesses whatever she touches. And she touched me. I love this kid.
And God said…Write to her. Write for her. Be inspired by her. Love her in story. Anywhere there is love, I am.
And her parents thought I was just being tolerant listening to their delightful first grader who is an only child and “that’s good because she doesn’t have to share with a brother or sister” but she has friends – including the one who has a pony which is how all this got started – and it’s more fun to “do fun things with someone else” and “she would help her friend clean the stalls” in exchange for “letting her ride the pony.” Did I mention that Natalie really wants a pony?
And I, in my adultness, had been so preoccupied with writing the happy ending, I forgot about the love in the middle. The engine that drives the story. The desire that saves the story, every time. We, Natalie and I, have’t come up with the ending yet. But I suspect it will be happy. Kid’s stories always have a happy ending. That’s how they know when they’re finished. “The end.”
Oh, I was not just engaging Natalie in polite conversation as a distraction for her parents. This was God’s idea. Every love story is.